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Hosting International Visitors:

Hosting international visitors on the JMU campus brings the significant benefit of exposing JMU and the broader Harrisonburg community to an exceptional diversity of perspectives. James Madison University encourages colleges, departments, and faculty members to invite and host international delegations or individual colleagues for short-term campus visits to develop and explore research collaborations, teach, develop international partnerships, or introduce JMU. 

Any campus college or department can host foreign nationals/ international visitors or a delegation, but please contact CGE well in advance of the visit, so that CGE can offer guidance and suggestions on visa requirements, proper etiquette, and protocol. Scheduling a visa appointment at a US Embassy can take weeks to years.  Please reach out as early as possible. 

The following resources can help units in planning for international visitors.

Purpose of The Visit:

As you consider hosting foreign nationals as an international visitor(s), determine the reasons for doing so. Common purposes for these visits include:

  • Engaging in the educational or research collaborations of an individual department, college, or the broader University.
  • Creating new learning opportunities for JMU students in collaboration with an international partner institution (e.g., global virtual exchange, COIL, studying abroad, etc.).
  • Exploring new opportunities for bringing international students to your academic program.
  • Exchanging knowledge, ideas, and best practices around topics of mutual interest.

Visit formats may range from courtesy calls and general introductions to detailed partnership educational and research activities planning, and celebrations of shared accomplishments. The following questions can help you determine the purpose and format, and prepare to plan the visit:

  • What is your history with the institution and visitors? Do you (or your unit) have an existing relationship with the organization or does the visit represent forming a new relationship and a new area for collaboration? Check with CGE if JMU has an existing partnership with the institution you intend to work with.
  • What are the goals of the visit? How do the interests and goals of your department, college and/or JMU align with the goals of visitors and bring mutual benefit to all involved?
  • Who requested the visit: did you extend an invitation or did the visitors contact the JMU? What are the benefits of this visit for your department, college or the broader JMU? What costs and time commitments will be involved with the visit? Who in your department will be planning and coordinating the visit? Is it possible to accomplish any of the outcomes via a video conference?
  • Who are the members of the visiting delegation? Are you able to connect visitors to JMU counterparts with similar titles or statuses? Consider schedules and availability of JMU faculty and staff along with visitors’ availability.
Planning Checklist:

The following tips can guide departments and units in hosting foreign nationals/international visitors.

Determine the timing of the visit

Communicate with the visitors (and relevant JMU staff) to acknowledge the request and agree on the timing of the visit. Consider the JMU academic and athletic calendars, special weekends, holidays, and graduation ceremonies. The availability of accommodations, transportation, and people to meet with the visitor is more difficult to arrange during large events on campus.

Identify a coordinator for the visit

The coordinator, a faculty/staff within the hosting unit, builds the itinerary, schedules meetings, and addresses logistical questions. This could be a faculty member and administrative staff.

Prepare formal invitation letters

If requested, prepare a formal invitation letter. Such letters are often needed to help visitors obtain U.S. visas. Be sure to include the full name of each visitor, the dates they will be on campus, and the purpose(s) of the visit. The sample invitation letter is available on this page, but please, contact to inquire about the appropriate visa for the visitor(s).

Be informed of financial implications

Offering travel, housing, meals, payment for services (honorarium), or other in-kind items may have possible tax implications for international visitors or the hosting department. Center for Global Engagement requires that the host reviews all services, payments, and any payment agreements with Sherry Willis ( or 540.568.8034), Operations Manager in the Finance Office PRIOR to the international visitor’s arrival. Learn more.

Budget and seeking prior approval

List visit-related expenses (e.g., airport transfer, accommodation, meals, etc.) and clarify who is paying for each expense. Create a pre-travel authorization in the Chrome River, JMU’s electronic travel management solution.

Prepare the protocol

Consider the “levels” of the visitors. The protocol involved will vary greatly between the visit of a professor/researcher and the visit of a high-ranking university or government official. Please contact the CGE to inquire about courtesy visits for high-ranking officials.

Determine events and activities

What events and activities are appropriate and possible to include during the visit (e.g., lectures, presentations, receptions, meals, business meetings, campus tours, etc.)? Include cultural programming when possible: a tour of the community and/or participation in activities and events of interest available on campus or in the community during their time on campus.

Build an itinerary

The itinerary should include full titles, contact information, and bios for each visitor. This background information helps JMU colleagues better understand the context of the visit. Likewise, include full names and titles of JMU colleagues, so visitors know who they will be meeting with. A sample itinerary is included on this page.

Determine any special needs of the visitors
  • Disabilities – important for securing a hotel or meeting locations
  • Dietary restrictions (for health or cultural reasons) – important to consider when catering to lunch or dinner
  • Transportation – determine whether the visitors will need transportation from the airport to the hotel or around campus
  • Language – address needs for translation services
Global Engagement Reporting Tool

Use the Global Engagement Activity Summary form to inform the Center for Global Engagement about the nature and outcomes of global engagement activities you’ve conducted.

Submit Report

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